SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — A rare disease in children is becoming a concern because doctors don’t know what’s causing it or how to treat it.
Cases of the polio-like illness called Acute Flaccid Myelitis, have been reported in 22 states and Missouri is one of them.
But Katie Townes, the assistant director at the Greene County Health Dept. says no cases have been reported in this area.
The St. Louis Post Dispatch on Oct. 13 reported one child was diagnosed with the disease at the St. Louis Children’s Hospital.
Fox 4 News Kansas City reported last week that two cases had been confirmed at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City.
The number of AFM cases fluctuate every other year, and 2018 seems to be a peak year.
Dr. Ron Jones a pediatrician at Mercy Hospital says this is an extremely rare disease,; what’s most concerning are the unanswered questions about it.
“It’s an acute inflammation of the spinal cord in children, and that ‘s what the myelitis means,” Dr. Jones said.
Other than that, not much is known right now about Acute Flaccid Myelitis.
Dr. Jones says there are no specific risk factors nor cause, but it doesn’t appear to be contagious.
“It doesn’t seem to spread, and as far as I know there hasn’t been any reports of one child getting it and then a brother or a sister coming down with it,” he said.
Symptoms include fever, weakness, droopy eyes or face.
“A lot of them do get better, a lot of them recover completely, but some have a permanent disability,” Dr. Jones said. “And right now there isn’t enough to know which ones are going to get better and which ones aren’t.”
Townes says it’s a rare disease and parents shouldn’t be too worried.
“We don’t want to cause alarm. We don’t want people to necessarily stop daily behaviors or habits, but we just want people to be aware,” she said.
As far as prevention, Townes and Dr. Jones say washing your hands and keeping vaccinations up to date is the best families can do right now.